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Many lessons to be learned from senseless death of 14-year-old Carson Crimeni

Langley teen’s apparent drug overdose documented on social media
A celebration of life for Carson Crimeniwill be held Aug. 29 in Langley. Photo via GoFundMe
A celebration of life for Carson Crimeni will be held Aug. 29 in Langley. Photo via GoFundMe

There are lessons to be had in the death of Carson Crimeni, some of them more obvious than others.

Crimeni died Aug. 7 in Langley in an apparent drug overdose. Videos of the 14-year-old appearing to be very intoxicated were posted to social media by “friends” who were with him.  

His obituary calls him a “fun-loving jokester who loved to make everyone laugh.” It says he loved animals, cooking and playing video games. Calling him generous and caring, it says he was his father’s best friend and his family’s greatest gift.

His family said he just wanted to fit in, but, as the Globe and Mail reported in depth, he was bullied at school and had never even been invited to a friend’s birthday party.

The first, most obvious and universal lesson is this: Love your kids and let them know.  

Crimeni’s family is clearly devastated by his death and would probably give everything they have and more to say one last “I love you.”

Another lesson: Treat others kindly. Yes, the old golden rule is still one to live by. If people had treated Crimeni as they would like to be treated themselves, he might still be alive.

It turns out, at least one person tried to help Crimeni.

Someone called the police after seeing photos on snapchat and worrying about his welfare. That was at 8 p.m.

Two officers went to see if Crimeni was OK, but they couldn’t find him, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. said in a statement.

Crimeni was dead just a couple of hours later, after being found, still breathing, by another teenager heading home around 10 p.m.

The IIO is now investigating what role, if any, the officers’ actions or inactions played in Crimeni’s death.

While a lesson for the police might be to look harder, there are other lessons for the rest of us. First off, don’t take drugs. For those who cannot abstain, only take drugs in the presence of other people and, preferably, people who will help you out if something goes wrong.

Metro Vancouver is in an opioid crisis, one in which thousands have died. Of this year’s 538 deaths, 87 per cent died inside, mostly alone and in a private residence. So, if you’re going to do drugs, any drugs, surround yourself with people who care.

It’s not clear in Crimeni’s case what drugs he took, how he got them or whether he knew what he was taking.

If you’re around people who are taking drugs and one of them gets into trouble, call 911.

Canada’s Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act protects people, including the person overdosing, from legal charges for the possession of drugs, when they call for help in an overdose.

Calling 911 should be easy, since everybody’s got a phone in their pockets. Another thing that’s easy, but that can also be dangerous, is taking photos or videos and sharing them on social media. The role of social media in bullying is growing, as we’ve seen now in Carson’s death and in others, like Amanda Todd, who committed suicide in 2012 after being harassed online and posting a YouTube video about her experience.

Anxiety is also growing, possibly linked to the use of smart phones and social media. With that comes depression and feelings of isolation.

The idea that someone would knowingly videotape a person overdosing and share that on social media without calling for help is abhorrent.

Less extreme than that, but still obvious is the lesson to never post anything on social media that could embarrass yourself or your friends in the future. Keep it classy. Your future selves will thank you.

But the not-so-obvious lesson is to give yourself a break from your phone, social media and technology as a whole. Have fun with your friends in person and not just as avatars online. Get together, laugh, feel good. Break that hold technology has over us all.

Let’s reiterate the lessons that Carson Crimeni’s death can teach us. First of all, love your kids and let them know. Treat others kindly. Try not to take drugs, but if you must, take them only with other people who care about you. If you’re with someone who has taken drugs and who may be overdosing, call 911. Keep your social media channels classy. Take breaks from technology and get together with your friends in person.

Carson Crimeni’s death shouldn’t be for nothing. Let’s make him a catalyst to create a better life.

A celebration of life for Carson will be held this afternoon in Langley.